"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Wyoming Journals, Ch. One: Twenty-five Thousand Miles and $11.20

Twenty-five Thousand Miles and $11.20

It was the sweet and sour chicken that started it all.   It was not, as has been alleged, the oatmeal raisin cookies.

It was the chicken.   That,  and being raised in Alaska since age six and thus not knowing many of my relatives.  

It's like the advice "never go shopping when you're hungry."   I was hungry and browsing Facebook, when  I saw the food being prepared for my cousin Bud's upcoming elk hunt.

Those large pans of sweet and sour chicken and beef stew prompted me to use 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles and $11.20 for a ticket that would get me to Denver and ultimately to the Snowy Mountain range in southeastern Wyoming.  

Bud's wife Barb preparing the ever-favorite sweet and sour chicken.

Barb's beef stew.

Along with those entrees were photos of large batches of chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, but, really now, how tempting could cookies be?

Our move from Detroit to Anchorage, Alaska, was in 1948, a time when travel of that distance was a rarity for working class families.  

To this day, there are a whole bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins I’ve never met and I can’t even tell you who they are or how many there are or how they are related to me.

I remember Bud though.  He mentions those relatives now and them.   I give him a blank look in return.   Bud’s parents came to Alaska to visit a few times, so I got to know them, but Bud had a business and kids in Wyoming, and didn’t make the trip to Alaska until 2000 and we began to get reacquainted.   I also met his brother Bob for the first time along with one of his sons, and then Bud’s daughter Chris.

During those visits, Bud would often mention elk hunting, and would invite me down for a visit.

Then, in late September of this year, the sweet and sour chicken showed up on my Facebook feed.   What the heck, I thought.   I wasn’t doing anything and it looked like the rain was never going to stop.  Why not?

Chris made comfort food--tuna casserole with crushed potato chips on top.

“Why not” was soon a definite itinerary as was an appointment with a doctor to obtain a prescription for meds to prevent high altitude sickness.   According to Bud, the temps could be from the teens to 70 degrees, and from 5000-foot altitude to over 9000 feet, so I mailed off a box of cold weather boots and clothes.

He somehow neglected to mention wind, but then, he’s lived in Wyoming for 42 years and apparently one is so inured to wind after that long, that one considers it a given and doesn't realize that other people don't live in wind tunnels.

And that is how I found myself sitting in a hunting blind on the side of a mountain, freezing my tush and toesies off in a freaking blizzard.

The aforementioned cookies had nothing to do with it.


  1. We enjoyed your visit and I could hardly wait for this blog to start. If you think it was windy while you were there, you should have stayed longer. The wind destroyed our garage tent and blew over the gas grill and broke it. It was a fun season, and now the repairs on the equipment starts so we are ready for next year.

  2. Nice blog. Wind is not my friend. I grew up in Casper, left after college, returned after my son Mike was born, left when I remarried a Montana man and moved to a much less windy climate in Billings, MT. Seems I miss the boat each time the opportunity arises to meet you. This time pneumonia kept me from getting to Moms and taking her down to have lunch with you all. Glad you enjoyed the food. Mom has always been a great cook.

  3. "Follow the food" ... a mantra that seems to have been very enticing in this case. So nice that you were able to visit with family and did not get blown away in the process!! Great Chapter 1 ... we are back in Alaska as of last night. Patti & Cap

  4. Patti learned something here, Bud is your cousin. Great adventure upcoming. Comfort food, tuna casserole with crushed (ruffle) potato chips on top. Sweet and sour chicken looked great also. I am not able to hold the fact in my mind you and I were both born in Detroit. In 1948 I was age 12-years. Ten years later, 1958, I left for California via the United States Marine Corps. We two will have fun following you in Wyoming. Patti and Cap